You love playing horror video games because you either enjoy the rush or are dead inside. The greatest medium for the horror genre is the video game. No other medium comes close to capturing the ephemeral panic and lasting eldritch dread. You become so engrossed in the experiences of a video game that they often become more memorable than any book or motion picture. Comparing movies to video games is like comparing hardtack to baguettes. You live through your avatar.
1. Outlast Series
These games are scary. They are scarier than most games. If you have heart problems, even just watching the gameplay can be an intense experience, so be wary.
Outlast’s prologue states: “You are Miles Upshur, an investigative reporter whose ambition is about to earn him an intimate tour of hell on earth. Always willing to risk digging into the stories no other journalist would dare investigate, you will seek out the dark secret at the heart of Mount Massive Asylum“
Outlast 2’s prologue states: “Lynn Langermann is an investigative journalist seeking the answers behind a pregnant woman murdered under impossible circumstances in rural Arizona. You are Blake Langermann, her husband, assistant, and cameraman. Record everything. Neither of you are fighters; to navigate the horrors waiting for you in the desert, your only choices are to run, hide, or die.”
Condemned: Criminal Origins
While the plotline is absolutely 100% terrible, the gameplay is good. YouTuber Pyrocynical gives an awesome breakdown of the game in this video. He states that the combat system is “great for the most part.” He states that using the taser ruins the spirit of the survival aspect.
The player is given limited ammo and weapons throughout the game. You cannot carry multiple weapons. The AIs are smart, use any weapon they can get their hands on, they will wait for opportune moments to jump you, and feign attacks. This requires strategy and creates a sense of vulnerability.
This game is only available on Microsoft Windows and XBOX 360.
Left 4 Dead Series
This game has what is known as “runner zombies.” The infection is called the”Green Flu.” There are many different types of zombies in these games. You must work together with a team (either other players or NPCs) to get away from the hordes.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Like some other horror games, you get a sanity meter. You do not get weapons in this game. You have amnesia. You have to journey through a castle to find notes that you’ve previously written to yourself. You slowly learn about what’s going on. A note that you read makes you have a flashback of a relic that you found while on an expedition.
It has a Lovecraftian feel. In the letter mentioning the “most peculiar” relic, he mentions that when he touched it, he saw “impossible geometry.” A very Lovecraftian trope.
Silent Hill Series
Many people claim that their favorite Silent Hill is Silent Hill 2: this game employs a type of fog of war. This series has a lot to do with manifestations of the psyche. There are many hidden meanings in the game that still haven’t been deciphered.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
This is another survival horror game in first-person POV. This one has invincible zombie-like creatures. Its gameplay is very similar to Outlast.
This one gives you a laser-cutter weapon. The original Dead Space is scary due to the ambiance and the sheer fact that severing a monster’s head doesn’t kill them.
This survival horror game is one of the most philosophical games, ever. It deals with things like doppelgangers, what it means to be human, what consciousness is, and whether emergent consciousnesses deserve the same rights as other sentient beings.
It’s also scary because you’re chased by creatures that have a blinding light to them. Oh, and you’re also a robot.
The noises in this game are almost as real-feeling as the smacking sounds in Fight Club. You play as a death-row inmate that is ostensibly put to death. He wakes up, trapped in a city. He takes directions, from a snuff-film director, through an earpiece. His directions are to brutally kill gang members. The bloodier, the more stars you get. You have to sneak up behind them.
This is an older game. If you can find a way to play it, do so. The novelty factor of it being banned in some countries is like reading a book from a banned books list.
The music is masterfully creepy. This game is what happens when Ayn Rand’s philosophy is stretched to its limits. The first game’s antagonist’s name is a loose anagram of Ayn Rand: Andrew Ryan.
There are moral dilemma’s in the game, but they are limited by how the game was designed.
This Lovecraftian nightmare really takes the lore to a different place altogether. It has to do with blood transfusions from otherworldly creatures. Great Old Ones and demigod monsters.
You must traverse through a nightmare. You will die a lot. The Dark Souls people made this.
Layers of Fear
This is a story that follows an artist trying to finish his painting by collecting items throughout a game with well-crafted jump-scares and puzzles.
This is a single-player puzzle game. It has a suspense feel that is quasi-horror. It is a survival game. You play a child character who traverses giant buildings. It feels like a totalitarian state.
The ending is confusing and has a few different interpretations. There is also a secret ending.
This game reminds me of the anime Spirited Away. A young girl is trying to escape a ship where everyone is intensely hungry. The creatures look like horrifying versions of the guests in Spirited Away. The ending is intense.
This game is about a little girl named Alma Wade who possesses psychic powers. It has something to do with controlling an army of soldiers with psychic abilities. You are tasked with going in and cleaning up a disaster.
Alma psychically appears to the protagonist, often. She goes in and out of his psyche throughout the game.
While this game isn’t around anymore, unless you have enough money to buy a price-gouged PS4 with the demo on it, you can replace your sleep by watching the playthroughs.
What are your favorite horror video games? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images via Wikimedia Commons